When you’re on vacation, buses can be one of the most convenient ways to solve the logistical issues of getting to and from the airport, the hotel, the theme park, casino or resort. Florida visitors have their pick: Airport shuttles and hotel shuttles, private charter buses, rental party buses, metro public transportation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports there are some 700 million passengers transported by bus annually in the U.S. That’s more than twice the U.S. population.
Although bus accidents only comprise less than 1 percent of all traffic accidents nationally, that doesn’t necessarily mean buses are safer than cars. Studies have shown per vehicle miles traveled, buses are just as dangerous as cars. About 250 people are killed and more than 20,000 injured each year in bus-related crashes.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale busing accident lawyers understand the many factors that are at play in busing accidents that result in injury to Florida tourists. These include:
- Driver inexperience;
- Driver fatigue;
- Bus defect;
- Inadequate bus maintenance;
- Driver carelessness/ negligence/ recklessness.
In general, buses are designed to be very tall and that means they have a high center of gravity. When you consider that plus the fact that it weighs somewhere between 6,000 pounds and 33,000 pounds and requires a great deal of professional skill to wield safely, the potential risk of a collision causing an injury – particularly in a rollover – is high.Charter Bus Companies
Nationwide, it’s estimated there are approximately 4,000 private motor coach companies, a figure that has expanded in the last handful of years due to a proliferation of casinos.
Motor coaches and intercity passenger buses can carry up to 66 passengers. According to SafeRoads.org, there were 605 million motor coach trips taken in a single year recently, with 21 percent of those being students and more than 28 percent being senior citizens.
The charter bus industry was deregulated by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1982, which has resulted in a proliferation of fly-by-night bus companies that lack the resources to keep the drivers properly trained and the equipment properly maintained. Plus, a lot of these companies don’t prioritize worker protections – or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration standards – which means workers often are made to drive long, exhaustive shifts that leave them fatigued behind the wheel.
Plus in a lot of cases, casinos will contract with bus companies to shuttle as many visitors back and forth to their site, with little regard for safety. These companies fail to retrofit even basic features, like seat belts, on these buses, despite the long distance trip and the risk of serious injury in the event of a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) passed a new rule effective November 2016 that required all new motor coaches to come equipped with seat belts.
Bus companies that own and operate commercial buses, including charter buses, tour buses and sight-seeing buses, have a legal obligation to make sure their vehicles are maintained and serviced according to state and federal regulations.Airport Shuttles and Hotel Shuttles
Most people don’t give much thought to the airport shuttle or hotel shuttle. They think of it as simply a quick ride to and from the airport or from the hotel to the theme park. But here’s what you should consider: Many of these trips require a stint on the Interstate, where shuttles can reaches speeds of 55 MPH our more. If you’re riding in one of these vehicles without seat belts, a collision could result in serious injury or death.
Another issue with shuttle services is bus driver fatigue. It tends not to be discussed as much because drivers aren’t traveling long distances. But their shifts can be long. Plus, most guests and hotels see these shuttle services as a perk, as opposed to a central part of the operation. For that reason, shuttle drivers are often paid a fair amount less than other commercial drivers. The screening processes are increasingly lax, which opens the door to the risk of unqualified drivers.
Although many shuttles are required to carry between $1.5 million and $5 million in insurance (depending on the size of the vehicle), that amount quickly dissipates when you’re divvying it up among all the passengers on board. Plus, insurance companies fight these cases aggressively, so it getting a fair settlement without a trial can be challenging.Party Buses
So-called “party buses” are buses that look more like a nightclub on the inside: Leather interiors, strobe lights, brass poles, thumbing music and more.
They attract young people especially, including those celebrating proms, graduations, weddings, sporting events and more. But some of the problems that have arisen in recent years with party buses include:
- Falling through the front doors of the bus;
- Inadequate supervision of riders (buses that strike or run over passengers attempting to board at the last minute);
- Falling out the rear emergency door;
- Insufficient track lighting on the bus that causes internal falls.
Buses that are poorly maintained too, can cause injury as well.
If you have suffered personal injury as a result of a Fort Lauderdale bus accident, we can help.
Call the injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm at (877) 277-3780 or locally in Broward at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties.